Generally, young people are more likely to make poor choices or take risks that older adults would not. This is often attributed to the fact their brains are still maturing, and they are often faced with immense peer pressure.
Unfortunately, this is no excuse for engaging in criminal conduct. As such, teens can face some very mature consequences for their actions if those actions are unlawful. And even when the offences seem minor, they can result in serious criminal charges for youth offenders.
- Mischief – It may seem harmless to spray paint a wall, leave a store without paying for something or falsely accuse someone you don’t like of a crime. However, in the eyes of the law, these are all types of mischief that can result in detention.
- Assault – Emotions can run high in young people, making it common for them to have powerful reactions. However, there is a line between being emotional and committing a crime. When a young person gets into a fight, threatens someone or engages in unwanted sexual contact, he or she can face assault charges.
- Drug or alcohol possession – Many young people experiment with drugs or alcohol. However, despite seeming like a rite of passage, these behaviours are unlawful and can result in criminal charges.
- Cyberbullying – Most teens are quite savvy when it comes to technology. However, there are massive federal and provincial resources dedicated to digital crimes, like cyberbullying. As such, a teen who distributes intimate images of others, uses a computer without authorization or uses one to harass someone can be charged with a crime.
While Ontario has a separate system for juveniles between the ages of 12-17, the fact is that each of these offences has the potential to do considerable damage to a young person’s future. A teen might lose his or her standing in the community as well as educational and professional opportunities as a result of detention or a stained criminal record. He or she can be placed in custody and fined. Penalties increase substantially if the courts sentence a teen as an adult.
As such, it is crucial for teens and parents alike to take seriously any criminal allegation against a young person.